Exclusive: N74 Bn Abuja, Lagos CCTV Project Rots As ZTE Blames FG For Lack Of Commitment

March 08 16:17 2014 Print This Article

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CCTV project

Three years after the Nigerian House of Representatives initiated a probe into the N74 billion ($470 Million) Nigeria Public Security Communications System (NPSCS) project, award by the Federal Government to a Chinese firm, ZTE, nothing seemed to have happened thereafter, as the project has suffered setback with the massive vandalisation of major components of the installed equipment.

The NPSCS project as it is known has within its schedule, installed Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja and Lagos.

Regrettably, the purpose for which the project was initiated has been defeated as no case of terrorism, armed robbery, kidnapping or other such related crimes have been detected using the alleged world-class facilities, as it is applicable in other parts of the world.

Major crimes in developed parts of the world have been unraveled using the technology of the CCTV. An immediate case in mind is the Boston Marathon bombing; the London underground train bombing and a host of others.

But in the case of Nigeria, with particular reference to Abuja and Lagos, the N74 billion CCTV project has not helped in solving a single case since it kicked off in 2011. And criminals understanding the helplessness of the government in this direction have continued to harass the masses in these two cities knowing that the security agencies would not be able to find them via the mounted albeit  non-functional multi-billion NPSCS facilities.

Concerned by the neglect of the project by the company who was awarded the contract, ZTE of China, FrontiersNews undertook an investigation into the project and what was discovered was unfortunate for a nation such as Nigeria that craves for greatness and transformation.

It was gathered that the project for the installation of the security cameras in Abuja and Lagos was abandoned three years after it was awarded under the National Public Service Communication System.

The Federal Government in August 2010 awarded the $470 million (N73.9 billion) contract to Chinese company ZTE for the installation of 2,000 Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in the two cities with a central control unit at the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, aimed at helping security agencies in dealing with security challenges.

The project, which was supposed to be completed in July 2011, also includes provision of wireless voice service for the Nigerian Police Force to modernise its operations.

Our investigations revealed that before the project was abandoned by the contractors over two years ago, 1,000 units of the CCTV cameras were installed in strategic locations in both Abuja and Lagos, but none has been put to use.

Our investigations also revealed that out of the 1000 units of the CCTV cameras installed so far, about 200 units have been vandalised in Abuja by unknown persons due to non usage but security sources are pointing accusing fingers at the company that installed the facility.

Sources involved in the project who spoke to our correspondents at different times said the execution of the project is being frustrated by government’s lack of “seriousness”, despite the growing security challenges that has grip some parts of the country.

A senior officer at the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja who spoke to FrontiersNews on the condition of anonymity said the installation of the communication gadgets under the NPSCS was delayed because some of the masts required for the system to work have not been imported and mounted by the company.

“There are about 700 masts that will be installed in different parts of the country but the contractors were not able to secure suitable sites to mount them,” the official who did not want his name mentioned said.

“In some places you will buy land and by the time you start work there, a group will emerge claiming the ownership of the land. But we have concluded arrangement with the FCT authorities and they are facilitating that for us,” the source stated further.

He maintained that the cameras were “only 15 per cent of the entire contract which also included the delivery and installation of videoconferencing and video calling gadgets among others.”

The ZTE source lamented that because of the slow progress of the project about 200 units of the cameras and solar panels have been vandalised in Abuja alone and noted that if something urgent was not done to complete the projects, majority of the cameras maybe vandalised.

There are also fears that by the time the government mustered the courage to continue the project, the CCTV equipment may have become obsolete thus defeating the purpose for which the project was initiated, that is effective crime fighting.

Passengers and other passersby in Abuja, especially within the busy popular Wuse Market area, have tales of agony to tell in the hands of robbers who rob them of their bags, phones, monies and other valuable items. Many of them said that in their bid to struggle to board buses or taxis to their destinations, they are dispossessed of their belongings by petty thieves.

The CCTVs that dot all the major streets of the Abuja Municipal spreading to its environs do not seem to serve the purpose for which they were installed, giving the rising crime rate in the city without solution.

The NPSCS is being funded by a $470 million credit facility obtained from the Exim Bank of China, secured with 3 per cent interest, repayable in 10 years.

Based on the project terms, the Federal Government was to make an initial 15 percent payment of about $70.5 million, while the Chinese Exim Bank would provide the balance of $399.5 million.

The project has long been mired in controversy. It would be recalled that the House of Representative Committee on Public Procurement, Aid, Loan and Debts Management and Information Technology had in December 2011, launched an investigation into the $470 million CCTV project following a plethora of allegations against ZTE’s sub-standard work ethics.

The parliament had then sent a 10-man committee to China on a fact finding mission of projects previously executed by the firm in China with a view to comparing their standard of work.

The one-week trip was allegedly sponsored by ZTE in April, 2012 and findings from the fact-finding mission are still unknown.          

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